Record labels must adapt to the new normal with coronavirus
One such company is Vth Season, home to award-winning artist AKA and rising talents Ami Faku and Manu Worldstar.
“All of the artists are facing a loss of revenue when it comes to live shows, touring and events, which is probably about 20% of their income. As a business we see that knock-on effect of revenue being slashed and we have also seen that the world is not okay psychologically. Everybody is worried about a lot more things,” said Vth Season co-founder Ninel Musson.
“We are all worried about what is going to happen in the times to come. As a business owner I worry about the artists and our staff. The music industry, say a year from now, will still be based around the same things - artistry and content. Everything that is keeping people going right now - watching Netflix, listening to your favourite music - that is what we do. Whether artists are performing via AI or holograms or digital platforms or if it is on stage a year from now, it is still going to come down to the artistry and content that they have created. The world needs that now more than ever and will still need that a year from now.”
Musson is one of the only female co-founders of a record label and management agency on the continent. She has worked hand-in-hand with co-founder Raphael Benza to transform a unique music start-up operating locally to an impactful pan-African independent label.
“When you are a smaller entity in this music business you have to build resilience. For me that is small actions over time. With 10 years of doing this and working around the highs and lows of this industry, we have been through a lot of things that have made us quite elastic and adaptable, which I think really prepares us for things like this. There is a lot that is out of our control. We do not know what is coming next, we don’t know when it will be safe for our artists to be on the road again. The few things that are in our control - operations, how we can cut costs, or work to keep staff on and continue with the same skills - those are the things we try to work on.”
Musson said the company has had to look at innovative ways of doing things, like changing from outsourcing to upskilling in-house staff.
“That creates work for people to keep their jobs and it can build some new skill sets for them. For instance if you weren't doing digital marketing before, you can now do a course and upskill.”
She added that the lockdown was a good time for artists to get creative and let their thoughts out.
“This can eventually become material they can perform. We are moving gatherings online. I think that is just the framework we have to work in now. Where we can invest in more technology, we will support that. We will always invest in content creation because if we do it right now it can earn money for the artist even next year. “You have a crisis now that you have to deal with but you have to look through that and see what your strategy will be going forward.
"It’s a challenge but if you can get that right, it means the things you are doing now will serve you further down the line.”
Vth Season artists are still working on new music and projects during the lockdown.
“There is new music from AKA, a project coming from Manu Worldstar and Benny Afroe. A new single from Ami Faku is coming soon and there is a lot more. Music, artistry and content, those are the things people are still going to be demanding and we have doubled up on creating more of that.”